Tag Archives: Tools

Visual Studio 2005 Community Launch Tools

This year, I was asked to be the INETA community launch champion for my local user group. Essentially, the job is to present at least two topics related to Visual Studio 2005 and/or SQL Server 2005 and/or BizTalk 2006. I was honored to be picked for this role and have done my best to provide the best possible experience for those who come to listen. This month’s topic is “Managing the Software Development Life Cycle with Visual Studio 2005 Team System”. WOW! Here’s the blurb that the UG’s sent out on this topic:

“Today’s software projects have one consistent trait – they fail. They fail to meet budgets. They fail to meet deadlines. In many instances, they fail to even make it to implementation. In 2000, only a fraction of software projects succeeded. That rate did not get much better in 2004. Industry demands such as more complex business requirements, government regulations, and standardization of components will make success all the more challenging. In this presentation, we’ll explore how you can utilize the new tools found in Visual Studio Team Services to increase your own success track record. This presentation will show how requirements can be gathered early, managed, modified, tracked, and reported on all the way through the software development life cycle. Come see the powerful new tools that are provided for architects, developers, testers, project managers, business analysts, and even project stake holders!”

While its always a good thing to prepare for a meeting, I realized while sitting in my hotel room that there are quite a few tools that I use to give presentations. I thought I might post pictures and informationa bout the tools I use so that others who are just getting started in their presentation careers can get a glimps into their future.

The Laptop

Its an HP Pavilion zd8000 series laptop that has been customized for the best performance I can get out of it. It has 2GB of ram, a 100 GB hard drive, Lightscribe DVD burner, and the like. I love this laptop because it has 4 USB ports (5 if you count the HP usb digital drive port), firewire, built in wireless, bluetooth, 5-1 media reader, built in speakers, and the list goes on. It even has a media remote control (meant for use with Windows Media Center Edition) that works very well for remotely moving forward and backward in powerpoint slides. Its a varitable swiss army knife of laptops and the kicker, of course, is the 17″ widescreen LCD.


The External Hard Drive

I use a Maxtor 300GB exernal hard drive to keep all of my VPC images on. This serves as both a repository and a backup for my Virtual Server (or Virtual PC) images. Having your VHD image on a hard drive other than your system drive is essential for performance. This drie is particularly useful because I can use either firewire or USB to connect to any system. Using Maxtor’s software, I can also use this device to automatically backup files from any of my systems too — and literaly at the touch of a button!

external hard drive

The Bluetooth Headset

On occassion, depending on the room setup, I can use this Motorola headset in place of a mobile mic. I pair the headset with my laptop and use the mic to output to my speakers at a podium. If I bend the podium mic to the speakers, I have a virtual walking mic. Obviously if a mobile mic is available, I use that instead for better clarity.

bluetooth headset

The Tablet PC

You may be asking why I use both a laptop and this new Gateway Tablet PC. Actually, this makes great sense if you ask me. I can set up the tablet as a sort of teleprompter during my presentations. The tablet can hold my demo scripts and walkthroughs (in case I lose a bolt during the presentation and need to remember where I’m at). Also, I didn’t buy the top of the line tablet. While the 14″ widescreen LCD makes this item look expensive, I only paid $1300 for this one — and that’s standard pricing. It only has 512 MB of ram, but thats all I need for my tablet PC needs — particularly when doing presentations. This tablet has a directional mouse-like input device on the left hand side that allows me to easily scroll up and down in my document without using the stylus.

tablet PC

The Thumbdrive

While I do have wireless connections, bluetooth and infared that can share data, I prefer to use the tumbdrive for quick transport between the laptop and the tablet when neccessary. I also carry a copy of the presentation materials on it in case someone asks me for them. Then its as easy as plugging the thumbdrive into their machine and letting them drag them onto their desktop.


The Smartphone

I use the smartphone to help keep my timing in presentations. I leave the phone clipped to my belt and set up vibrating reminders to tell me when I should be at a certain point in my presentation. If I’m not there, I can speed things up. If I’m off to the races, I can slow things down and take a few extra questions when needed. I wouldn’t recommend buying one of these if you just want it for these purposes. I just happened to already have this phone so its what I use.


I love my tools. Its taken me a little while to learn what works and what doesn’t. I would imagine what works for one person wont neccessarily work for another. Let me know what you think.

Where’d all my ‘tech’ go?

I’m sitting in my apartment in Greenville, SC looking over the pool, listening to a television that’s sitting on the floor, watching commercials for one piece of technology after another. Suddenly something hit me.

When I was a poor guy working for next to nothing, I had access to pretty much the best of technology. I always had a computer or two that were top of the line with the best graphics and processor upgrades available. I had the newest cell phone and knew about pretty much every gadget coming out in the next 6 months to a year.

I sit here in astonishment wondering where did all of my technology go? I still have ALL CRT displays in my house, I have mediocre computers with the exception of a laptop that the company issued me — which of course really isn’t top of the line either. My cell phone is old and tired. I don’t even own a PDA. I see one of our GS folks at work won an HP63xx Pocket PC and isn’t even using the cell phone built into it. I don’t own a tablet PC. I don’t even have my own subscription to MSDN universal anymore. What happened to me?

Has anyone else noticed this sort of trend in their own lives? Its not that I don’t have the money. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy playing with the gadgets. I just, don’t seem to have the time to do the research on the products anymore. I go to the local electronics store and stand in front of the latest super-snazzy tech and then try to decide which is best based on the specs, but then decide I’ll go back home and do some more research before buying the item. By the time I remember to look it up, some new gadget is out and I repeat the cycle. I’m sort of frustrated now and I feel like I may just have tech-envy. I see everyone else with their gadgets and I have to say… where’s my tech? Someone please stop me from running to the store in a panic and buying up a storm! Tell me this is normal. Someone? Anyone?